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postcustodial theory of archives


n. ~ The idea that archivists will no longer physically acquire and maintain records, but that they will provide management oversight for records that will remain in the custody of the record creators.


The postcustodial theory shifts the role of the archivists from a custodian of inactive records in a centralized repository to the role of a manager of records that are distributed in the offices where the records are created and used.

(Henry 1998, p. 319) Supporters of a new paradigm for electronic records promote the notion of 'post-custodialism,' which defines a centralized archives as 'an archives of last resort.' New paradigm supporters urge archivists to 'cease being identified as custodians of records' because, among other things, this role 'is not professional.' An archives with custody is 'an indefensible bastion and a liability.' These writers maintain that creators of records or other institutions, whether they are archives or not, can take care of archival records.